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Back-Room Boy

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Back-Room Boy

Published 1942

After being jilted by his fiancee, Arthur Pilbeam (Arthur Askey) wants a job where he will encounter no women.
He is sent to a lighthouse on a remote Scottish island which is being run as a meteoroligical station where he is supposed to be the only inhabitant. However, Jane (Vera Frances), a young girl, has stowed-away on his boat.
She is looking for her uncle on the neighbouring island. Then model Bobbie turns up - her boat has been torpedoed. With the arrival of another boatload of survivors, bringing the total occupancy of the island to 13, things are getting a little crowded.
That's when they all start to disappear, one by one...

Run time 79 min.
Producer Edward Black
Production Company Gainsborough Pictures
Audio/Visual sound, black & white
Contact Information


Reviewer: larry76 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 16, 2014
Subject: Like great wine
Another old film that was great to watch. Even if the actors are not
as trained as those of today, they still were a joy to watch. The young girl was excellent.
Reviewer: ghostmadl - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 30, 2014
Subject: Very nice
This was a really nice film. Some of the old British stuff can be a little stuffy, but this was a really nice, face paced comedy. :)
Reviewer: switcher - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 17, 2013
Subject: British comedy classics
The film is jolly good. Herbert Mason was a master of "comedy thrillers" :) Askey at his best. Nice to see young Googie Withers here.
Reviewer: Popeyegee - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 14, 2011
Subject: Funny Flick
There is no doubt that Askey is a comedic genius if you can get past the fact that he is like an irritating fly that won't stop buzzzzing around your ears. This guy is like your annoying kid brother who wants to tag around everywhere you go.
Reviewer: picfixer - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 10, 2010
Subject: He's a pip! (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)
Another British wartime comedy produced by Edward Brown, and starring the energetic radio comedian, Arthur Askey. These morale-boosters from Gainsborough Pictures have more in common with the "Cary On" films' style than with the more sophisticated Ealing Studio comedies. But if fewer brain cells are required, that doesn't mean they aren't just as much fun. How much you enjoy this fast-paced romp to a large extent depends on how much you like Arthur Askey. If you do, you're in for a great time with this quick-march parade of quips and sight gags. I agree with the other reviewers; the little girl Jane (Vera Frances) is a charmer. This glitch-free print is complete and in excellent condition. The 698 MB download is recommended,

THE PIPS: They were and are Greenwich Mean Time signal beeps. To this day they are broadcast every hour, on the hour, by the BBC World Service. Of course, they never have been generated in the absurd way depicted in this film.

CAST NOTES: If this flick has turned you into an Arthur Askey fan, here is where you can find more of him on IA: "King Arthur Was a Gentleman," "Ghost Train" and "Miss London, Ltd." All of which are on complete, high-quality prints. Young Vera Frances also has a small role in "King Arthur Was a Gentleman."
Reviewer: The_Emperor_Of_Television - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 1, 2010
Subject: Fun Movie!
Charmingly dated old movie!

I won't reveal the ending, but let's just say I loved it for the absurdity!

Love the sets! Very old and atmospheric!

The pacing is so fast, I got whiplash!
Reviewer: craigrobert - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 18, 2009
Subject: 1,2,3,4,keeping up of spirits during war.
No way was evil going to prevail against this nation, and her allies with such a marvelous stiff upper lip.
As for the torquay quip, I presume it is an observation about the distance from London and the bombings.
Reviewer: earplay - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 14, 2009
Subject: Absolutely wonderful
The shortcomings of the movie are mostly my own. A little difficulty with English accents. The Scottish dialect is meant to be incomprhensible.

The actors are first rate, including Vera Frances, the little girl. Her facial and vocal expressions are more than perfect, they are natural.

Some issues with various effects (look close and you can see the kelpy in the Arthur's first view of the rocks from the lighthouse), but this was wartime Britain. To me, the shortcuts only add to the sense of wartime deprivation.

One shortcut you might not catch is the faux workbench on the way to the "pips room". Men are standing in front of a wall painted to look like it has a work surface and instruments.

Pace is good. Jokes are quick. Some of the humor is subtle, some overt.

By the way, the islands portrayed and the lighthouse actually exist. They are immediately north of Unst, one of the Orkney isles. You can see them on Google Earth. One island has the lighthouse and the other is renowned for its birds.

Set your VLC player for an aspect ratio of 4:3.

By the way, if anybody can explain the joke about people in Torquay not knowing a war is going on, please share.
Reviewer: RM_115 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 9, 2009
Subject: Thanks a million to 'k-otic' for bringing us this gem.
It's a very good comedy and the acting is superb on all counts. I won't go into detail because the other posters wrote it all: you won't be sorry watching this jewel!
Reviewer: Albert Schlef - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 7, 2009
Subject: Cute.
This is a cute movie.
Reviewer: jahzoone - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 23, 2009
Subject: The Pips of Love
The is a great little film. It's comedic, mysterious and just plain bizarre at times. It moves along at a nice pace and reveals a witty tale of love.
Reviewer: kareneliot - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 11, 2009
Subject: Delightful, quick moving, enjoyable
I really liked this. It kept me guessing right up until the very end.
Reviewer: aratbag - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 5, 2009
Subject: Enjoyable, dated and fun
An enjoyable Wartime film that features the Queens English and Scottish that may be a little incomprehensible to some in places. There again I don't understand why I need a laughter track in certain dubious comedy progs.
Features some classic UK players and the humour is good and clean.
If you know what the pips are and Arthur Askey, give it a watch, its fun.
Reviewer: Fireball Steve Zodiac - favoritefavorite - June 14, 2009
Subject: 13-pay attention
its a busy movie with lots to catch, if you blink you can miss plot setups...

It's in the genre of zany. A presumably haunted (the kelpy island its called) lighthouse island (which is only a tightrope walk away from another island that isn't), a woman-disliking man who is sent to the island because he was jilted and it leads to a petty revolt on his part, and his superiors revolt right back at him and ship him off to a desolate northern post (which becomes populated with models, criminals, stowaways), thats the start...the prattfalls go from there to the end. Notice the tongue in cheek cinemagraphic pun on the timing of the fireworks going off and the arrival of the boat load of models. The lead must have been the role model for Gilligan, a grown man always acting childlike and afraid of his shadow. silly. Odd visuals too, like daylight always on the next door island and always night time on the lighthouse island. People start disappearing right down to the last one, and then the tommy gun appears...just as the Navy shows up...but the Navy doesn't find anything wrong...of course...and they leave. And then there's the secret hidden staircase... And then there's the classic underwtaer mine field...and a boat that is designed to clear mines... And through all of it the stowaway child who is like Shirley Temple, all adult and proper and makes the best decisions in the movie.

With a Hollywood ending, everything gets all wrapped up full circle. I had to watch it 3 times because I kept snoozing off while it was playing. The Russians are Coming, it isn't. It is cute.
Reviewer: bearpuf - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 10, 2009
Subject: Surprise
I am having a difficult time analyzing this thing, but can only initially say that it was funny and quixotically corny simultaneously. British humor is sometimes tough for me, but lesser so with this presentation. Quite cute, and I was enamered with the kid.
Reviewer: slugs and urchins - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 8, 2009
Subject: English comedy!
This one is really great. Just watch it.
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